31 August 2016

Royal Flashback of the Day: August 31

I rediscovered this vintage (ahem, "vintage") look of Crown Princess Victoria's the other day (by which I mean, it came up while I was searching for Mette-Marit's tiaras, and then I got seriously sidetracked, as I am wont to do). I was struck and surprised by just how fabulous a look it really was.

Crown Princess Victoria attended the 2002 wedding of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn.
It surprised me because I often lump dresses from this period in Victoria's style evolution together as one, without many standouts. Skinny straps, fitted bodice, embellish it, repeat. Together, they do feel dated from today's perspective. But maybe I should have singled this one out sooner.

Video: Victoria repeated the dress and tiara combination in 2003, when she accompanied her parents on a state visit to Finland
The mauve color is an excellent pairing with the amethyst tiara, and the perfect bridge between the red of the Order of St. Olav sash and the purple gems when Crown Princess Victoria attended Princess Märtha Louise's wedding. The uniform embellishment from neckline to hem adds a bit of sparkle to the look - tiara and all, she's still no competition to Queen Silvia in the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure Tiara in the state visit video above, but few things can offer any competition to that wall o' gems. (There's a bonus tiara appearance in there, too.)

Also, those amethysts. She wore Queen Josephine's Amethyst Tiara, along with one of the brooches and a bracelet from the parure. She used another bit of the set as a pendant for her diamond rivière necklace, and added in Queen Josephine's Diamond Stomacher Earrings for good measure.
This has to be one of the greatest appearances of Queen Josephine's Amethyst Tiara ever, if not the single greatest. It's not an easy diadem to accommodate, with a circumference that tends to overwhelm. Tilting it back and tucking it under the hair is a sneaky solution, one also used by Princess Madeleine in 2012. Best ever appearance of this tiara, or do you have another to nominate?

30 August 2016

Royal Outfit Grab Bag of the Day: August 30

The royals are continuing to come out of hiding for our first random grab bag assortment in a while, huzzah.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima received the Dutch medal winners on their return from Rio de Janeiro last week.
Like there's any other color she would have worn here. Even W-A knows the drill, check that tie.

Crown Princess Mary celebrated the city of Glostrup's 850 year anniversary.
Between this and the coat from last week, she'll be well stocked with options for her next civil wedding. (Guess it's time to renew those vows, Fred.)

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia attended celebrations for the Swedish Local Heritage Federation's centennial.
Dress by Rodebjer, per The Royals and I
I think it's groovy. Or, well, at least as groovy as you can get in shades of blergh. There's another Swedish christening on the horizon (Prince Alexander on the 9th, don't forget!), and if this is a GAME ON notice to Princess Madeleine for a forthcoming battle of the massively sleeved christening outfits, you can sign me right up for a front row seat.

29 August 2016

Monday Tidbits for August 29: Queen Victoria's Coronet Changing Hands

Well, this is more of a Tidbit, singular. But hey, big tiara news:

--Queen Victoria's Sapphire Coronet has been sold (and sold again), and may leave the United Kingdom - unless a new buyer can be found that will keep it in the country. I have updated my entry on the tiara, so you can click here to read the piece's entire story. More on the current situation on the below...

Click all to enlarge. Photos: Department for Culture, Media & Sport

The sapphire and diamond coronet from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, immortalized in a very famous Winterhalter portrait of Victoria, was given to Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, as a wedding gift in 1922. Princess Mary's family sold quite a few of her jewels after her 1965 death, including the matching parure that accompanied Victoria's tiara. The Lascelles family held on to the tiara until sometime in the last few years, when they sold it to a London dealer. The dealer then sold it to an unnamed overseas buyer. That buyer applied for an export license, and that's where the whole process stopped...for now.

Due to the jewel's historical importance, the Culture Minister has placed a temporary export ban on the tiara, which allows extra time to find a buyer that would keep the tiara in the UK. The recommended cost to meet is £5 million (plus an additional £1 million VAT). The ban extends through December 27, 2016, and can be extended through the following July if a serious buyer is found.

The temporary export ban process has succeeded in keeping certain national treasures in the country in the past. The BBC has a rundown of a few items from Jane Austen's ring to a pricey car; on the hefty jewelry side, both a set of peridot jewelry given by the Prince Regent and the Mountbatten Tutti Frutti Bandeau were placed under the ban before ending up with the Victoria & Albert Museum. I am sure the V&A would love to have this coronet in their possession, and they may be the best option. Like many of you, I would love to see the royal family or the Royal Collection acquire this piece, but I won't be surprised if they choose to avoid such a public expenditure. We'll see what happens, and I hope that we can revisit the tiara entry with a happy ending sometime in the future. [BBC, V&A]

Tidbits is your place throughout the week to share things we haven't covered yet and for all your off topic chats. Enjoy!  

26 August 2016

Royal Style Twins of the Day: August 26

Crown Princess Mary is back to work and keeping busy, bless her splendiferous soul.

Crown Princess Mary opened a Monet exhibition this week.
She pulled these pieces from the back of her closet (she debuted the Prada/Miu Miu dress/jacket combo back in 2012). Although I am wondering whether we couldn't do with a little more shoe interest here, the outfit is as fresh and lovely as ever.

It was this very combo that came to my mind last year, when we saw something along those same lines...
Queen Letizia in Felipe Varela, 2015
Aqua with a white overlay does seem just the thing for a special occasion on a sunny day, no? And thus we arrive at the eternal question: Who wore it best? (I...might have to go with Letizia on this one.)

In other Mary news...

The Crown Princess opened an exhibition of works by photographer Marco Grob yesterday, including new portraits of herself and Crown Prince Frederik.

Keep the new portraits and the TIARAS coming, because when it's Danish Ruby Parure time, it's jumpy claps time. Of particular interest here is the use of the complete necklace from the Ruby Parure. Since Mary altered the parure for added flexibility, we haven't seen her wear the whole thing together - even here, she's using a pared down version of the earrings - and the necklace seems to get even fewer outings than the rest. (Or maybe it just feels that way to me, because I luuurve it. So grand!) Rest it right on that glam golden dress, Mary. (For the full portraits and more, click here.)
This outfit is also a little bit of a twin moment, by the way: Crown Princess Victoria owns a different take on the black floral Dolce & Gabbana dress. Just to bring our theme full circle.

25 August 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Tiaras of Crown Princess Mette-Marit

Because Crown Princess Mette-Marit just passed her birthday (happy 43rd!), and because it's her wedding anniversary (happy 15th!), I believe a tiara retrospective is in order. Sometimes it might seem like she only has the one tiara at her disposal...but that is not the case. As always, click the tiara name for the full story.
Jørgen Gomnæs/Det kongelige hoff
Her wedding tiara and her constant favorite ever since, this is the tiara that most associate with this fair crown princess. There's no doubt that it suits her exceptionally well - when King Harald and Queen Sonja selected this wedding gift, they knew what they were doing.
Mette-Marit actually did wear another tiara before her wedding day, she just didn't wear it as an actual tiara. She wore the Vifte Tiara as a necklace for a pre-wedding dinner, and has worn it as a necklace on a few occasions since. We've yet to see her give it a go as a headpiece.
Sølve Sundsbø/Det kongelige hoff
Her second tiara option came along in 2004, when Queen Sonja gave her the Amethyst Necklace Tiara. This tiara certainly takes a back seat to the Diamond Daisy Tiara, sometimes going so long between uses you can nearly forget she has it. It's not the greatest amethyst tiara out there, but it is a flexible little parure, and I like seeing it in use.

The Diamond Daisy Tiara and the Amethyst Necklace Tiara are Crown Princess Mette-Marit's two tiara choices, basically. For one very special occasion, however - the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Prince Daniel in 2010 - she got to test drive a different model. The smaller setting of Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara is a universally flattering jewel that looked right at home tilted back on her blond locks. I'd love to see it on her again. 

What's your favorite tiara on Crown Princess Mette-Marit?

24 August 2016

Royal Jewel of the Day: Queen Josephine's Diamond Stomacher

The Swedish royal jewel collection is home to some of the oldest royal jewelry still in use, and with their creativity, not even pieces that went out of fashion long ago need waste away in the vault. For example:

Queen Josephine's Diamond Stomacher
Frankie Fouganthin/CC BY-SA 3.0 (cropped)
Josephine of Leuchtenberg (1807-1876) came to Sweden thanks to her marriage to the future King Oscar I, and several pieces in the Swedish royal jewel collection came to Sweden thanks to Queen Josephine. She had a diamond stomacher, also called a devant de corsage, in a design of rosettes and a bow hung with multiple pendants; in the picture below, she wears it with pearls as pendants. (She's also wearing the pearl version of the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure Tiara.)

Queen Josephine and the stomacher with pearls
Diamond pendants were primarily used in the stomacher, three inside and one larger pendant at the bottom. Subsequent queens consort Victoria of Baden (1862-1930) and Louise Mountbatten (1889-1965) were also pictured wearing the stomacher.

Queen Victoria
Stomachers pretty much went out of fashion as time went on, but with a little jewel creativity and a slight reconfigure, this one's been kept in good use for many further decades.

Princess Lilian wears Queen Josephine's Diamond Stomacher Necklace
With the addition of a diamond rivière, the large diamond devant de corsage became an even larger diamond necklace, and the necklace became a favorite of Princess Lilian (1915-2013). Lilian was the wife of King Carl Gustaf's uncle, Prince Bertil, and a much-loved member of the Swedish royal family. She showcased the necklace often and well.

Crown Princess Victoria in the necklace
Anna-Lena Ahlström, Kungahuset.se
Crown Princess Victoria wears Queen Josephine's Diamond Stomacher Necklace now. It's an unusual shape, one that seems to require special accommodation with gown necklines, which may be the reason she has only worn it a couple of times. She did show it off to perfection with an open neckline when she debuted it at Princess Madeleine's wedding in 2013 (below - you know I'll take any excuse to show that magnificent appearance again).

Victoria with the necklace and earrings
Frankie Fouganthin/CC BY-SA 3.0 
You may have noticed that the two smallest diamond pendants went missing when the stomacher became a necklace (you can see two empty hooks where they once hung in the close up at the top). Those were turned into a pair of diamond earrings, which Victoria is also wearing above. The earrings are favorites of Victoria's; Princess Sofia notably wore them on her wedding day.

Princess Sofia and the earrings
From one jewel into two stunning pieces? That's the jewel creativity of the Swedish royal family at its best, I say.

23 August 2016

Royal Fans of the Day: August 23

The Olympics can't end until we check in one last time with our resident royal fans.

Good news from the equestrian events: Queen Máxima continued playing her boho holiday game until she got it ohhhhh so right.
I'll take one of these maxi dresses, please and thank you. Throw in a sporty summer fedora while you're at it. Based on Máxima's Olympic wardrobe, they seem to be the key to elevating every look.

The Dutch royals ended up hanging out with King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia at the jumping final! What the Swedes lacked in jaunty fedoras, they made up for with other winning accessories.
An Estelle phone case for the proud grandma! Please tell me King CG has one with a grumpy Prince Oscar face on it.

Maybe not, but he does have the ultimate in Olympic accessories:

He was given a little gold medal by some Swedish fans, and showed it off just like the actual Olympic champion with her actual gold medal. I love that.

The Olympics are over, but the Paralympics are on their way. Fingers crossed for some more royal support.

22 August 2016

Monday Tidbits for August 22: Your Downton Abbey Replacement

Hello again, here we go:

--Here's a preview for Victoria, starring Jenna Coleman as the famous queen. The series starts on ITV in the UK at the end of this month, and comes to Masterpiece on PBS in 2017. Already an Emmy frontrunner for the category of Dramatic Running in a Gown, I see. [YouTube]

--Here's a great account of National Day in Liechtenstein, which was last week. [Luxarazzi]

--Nice to see Princess Aiko jumping on board the summer stripe train! [Imperial Family of Japan Blog]

--Over at the Jewel Vault, a rarely spotted Scottish brooch.

--And finally: Of course, Harry.

Coming up this week: An Olympic check-in, and more...

Tidbits is your place throughout the week to share things we haven't covered yet and for all your off topic chats. Enjoy!  

17 August 2016

Royal Necklace of the Day (and a Programming Note): August 17

I'm bidding you adieu until Monday! I leave you with this parting gift:

Video: Queen Josephine's Natural Pearl and Diamond Necklace
Sotheby's sold Queen Josephine of Sweden and Norway's double row natural pearl and diamond necklace back in 2014, but I just stumbled across this video of the jewel recently. The necklace came to Queen Josephine (1807-1876) via her mother, Augusta, Duchess of Leuchtenberg (1788-1851); it is thought that Augusta received the jewel as a gift from her mother-in-law, Empress Joséphine (1763-1814). It eventually passed out of the main royal line and was sold more than once.

Josephine and her necklace (and the Cameo Tiara)
I'm honestly not much for pearls, but that video's trying hard to change my mind. I think I'm a little bit bewitched. The necklace sold for a whopping $3,426,669, so I'm clearly not the only one.

16 August 2016

Royal Fans of the Day: August 16

Many of our royals have already left the Rio Olympics for home, but King Willem-Alexander is still manning his position as Chief Fan of the Dutch team.

The King with Dutch athletes
Photo: RVD
I spy some Dutch gymnasts in there, which pleases me greatly. Queen Máxima and the A-Team joined the King this week, just to multiply the fun - and the confusion, when Máxima was identified as the wife of one of the athletes by a broadcaster. Oops!

These lucky ducks all got to watch Sanne Wevers take her place in the history books in the balance beam event final yesterday (above; there are also some very sweet pictures of them congratulating her and examining that precious medal). I want to watch a sporting event with these guys. Thumbs up left and right!

Dress by Vita Kin, ID by European Royals Fashion
Maxima's in full-on vacation mode, in case you were wondering about the sartorial side of things. I could see her lounging around their Greek home in this one. Maybe she just didn't bother unpacking from their last trip.

Clearly. Regarding this jumpsuit situation...I have decided simply to be glad she didn't find one in a bright orange. (She would. You know she would.) Anyhoo, about that gymnastics...

15 August 2016

Monday Tidbits for August 15: A Tiara Double Take and Added Cuteness

Here we go:

--Here's The Gyalsey to start your Monday off right. Bhutan's heir has been making visits with his parents, meeting his people, brightening everybody's day. Your basic baby stuff, in other words.
His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Facebook

--A little tiara appearance we missed, from the wedding of Prince Maximilian of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Franziska Balzer in Germany. As was pointed out by ReeceT21 in the comments last week, the bride's tiara matches the tiara worn by Princess Tatiana of Greece last year. It's a Bulgari tiara, loaned by Tatiana for Prince Carl Philip's wedding, now either loaned again or another of the same model. [Hello]

--Think I might be into this dress worn by Queen Rania to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Basic, but not.

--As you've likely heard, the Duke of Westminster passed away suddenly of a heart attack last week. The family name has come up here before primarily in relation to their quite spectacular tiara collection, which we have covered in the past. (And since it does come up, the estate is held in a trust.) [Telegraph, Guardian]

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault, QEII officially kicked her summer holiday into gear.

Coming up this week: Olympic things and more...

Tidbits is your place throughout the week to share things we haven't covered yet and for all your off topic chats. Enjoy!   

12 August 2016

Royal Wedding of the Day: August 12

In my continuing quest to turn my Olympics enthusiasm into a reason to drool over some jewels (you're welcome), let's spend some time with the gloriously tiara-filled wedding of a pair of Olympic lovebirds.

After meeting during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson tied the knot in 2004. Uffe Frank designed Mary's ivory duchess satin wedding gown, a creation of mixed opinion. (For me, I'm in permanent love with the bodice, but could quibble all day with the rest.) She used lace and a veil dating back to Frederik's great-grandmother, Princess Margaret of Connaught; these items have been worn by several of Margaret's descendants.

The new Crown Princess of Denmark brought her own bling to the wedding (her Wedding Tiara and specially commissioned diamond and pearl earrings), and so did her guests. Queen Margrethe dug around in the crown jewels for the biggest diamonds she could find, topped with her Floral Aigrette Tiara and accessorizing one of her best-ever looks.

It was a total run of interesting gowns and gorgeous tiaras, so let's go to the tape. Below is the whole ceremony, including Mary's showstopping entrance (my fave, hello).

Videos of people milling about waiting for the wedding waltz are oddly fascinating, so I'll leave you with these:

11 August 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, Revisited

Turns out I was only soooorta kidding about that Tiaras That Remind Me of the Olympic Rings thing.

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara
Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II
Grand Duchess Vladimir (Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, wife of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich) was the aunt of Tsar Nicholas II. She was the grandest of the grand duchesses at the imperial court, and she was no fan of the Tsar’s wife, Alexandra. So she packed up her magnificent jewel collection and set up a rival court at which she could properly dazzle.

Maria Pavlovna
via Wiki
One of her most dazzling pieces was this tiara of 15 intertwined diamond circles strung together with an undulating diamond ribbon on top and hung with pendant pearls, made in 1874 by Bolin, the Russian court jeweler. She hid this wonderful example of intricate Russian craftsmanship in the vault at Vladimir Palace in 1918 when she fled St. Petersburg in the wake of the revolution. It remained hidden away until a friend of the family who happened to be a member of the British Secret Intelligence Service smuggled her jewels out of Russia for the Grand Duchess, tucked away in a plain bag.

Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II
With her jewels finally returned to her, the Grand Duchess split them between her four children before passing away in Paris in 1920. This tiara went to her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece. Princess Nicholas sold her jewels to benefit both her family and Russian charities, and she sold this one in 1921 to Queen Mary. Mary subsequently had to have some repairs completed, as the journey hadn't been kind to the fine craftsmanship. On Mary’s death in 1953, this tiara and much of the rest of her jewel collection was inherited by her granddaughter, the Queen. The Queen has had to have her own share of repairs made to the tiara, ultimately having the frame remade in 1988.

Maria Pavlovna, showing a tightened coronet arrangement of the tiara
via Wiki
A quick word on its Russian provenance, as this always brings up accusations that Queen Mary swindled her poor exiled relatives (there is evidence against this, but that doesn't make it any less of a juicy story to repeat time and again): that debate mainly relates to jewels that were delivered to Grand Duchesses Xenia and Olga that Mary and George were meant to be helping value and sell. This tiara does not belong to that group, as it was bought separately from Princess Nicholas. In the documentary De Kongelige Juveler, you can see a written record of the purchase; we learn that the tiara was sold to Mary along with a diamond rivère for a price of £28,000 with all but £3,000 paid at the time of writing.

Queen Mary
via Wiki
Anyway, once in Queen Mary’s hands, of course she couldn’t leave it alone. Mary was in possession of the Cambridge emeralds, a group of around 40 cabochon emeralds which had originally belonged to Indian royalty but had made their way into British hands before being auctioned at a charity ball in 1818. The winner of the auction was Queen Mary’s grandmother, the Duchess of Cambridge. Once acquired by Mary, the emeralds were incorporated into new and existing royal pieces.

Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II
To the Vladimir tiara, she added 15 emeralds - originally toppers for the Delhi Durbar Tiara - as an alternative to the dangling pearls in 1924. It was a pretty ingenious idea, actually, making more of a mid-sized tiara option to wear alongside the fabulous collection of emeralds she had once she combined the Cambridge stash with emeralds collected in India during the Delhi Durbar. (I've covered the Cambridge and Delhi Durbar Parure extensively at the Vault, click here for that.)

Library and Archives Canada
The emeralds and pearls are stored in small pouches with numbers indicating their position in the tiara (larger stones in the center, smaller to the sides) so they can be swapped out according to the Queen's desires. The change is made by Angela Kelly, the Queen's personal assistant, advisor, and jewelry curator. She explains in her book, Dressing The Queen: The Jubilee Wardrobe, that the change takes nearly an hour to complete and requires focus so that they are securely on their hooks and placed in the proper order.

Video: The emerald version in action
The pearls are the most popular pick; the Queen often pairs the pearl tiara with the Duchess of Gloucester's Pendant Earrings and Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace. The emeralds have grown less popular in later years as the Queen has gravitated to white gowns and jewels, but were seen in both 2014 and 2015. She likes to pair it with the Delhi Durbar Earrings and the Delhi Durbar Necklace, maintaining the parure that Queen Mary put together, and occasionally with other emerald pieces in her collection.

The Queen has not added any pendant options, as her grandmother did, but she has removed them. She's worn the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara a few times with no pendants at all, which always looks to me like just what it is: a tiara with missing pieces.

Royal Household
This is one of the Queen's most easily recognizable tiaras, something reflected by its spot as #6 on our list of readers' favorite tiaras in 2011. Does the love hold up? You tell me.

Emeralds, pearls, or none?

10 August 2016

Royal Jewels of the Day: Princess Marie-Chantal's Diamond Infinity Hoop Earrings

There are a lot of items in Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece's jewel collection that I'd give a limb or two to have. These earrings are right up there at the top of the list.

Featuring three tiers of diamond infinity-style loops, they're basically standard hoop earrings with the volume turned up to 11. They come from a jeweler whose entire style tends to turn the volume up to 11, JAR (Joel Arthur Rosenthal). The American-born and Paris-based jeweler is mysterious by design, operating with a limited clientele and a limited output; he reportedly reserves the right to refuse to sell items if he thinks they won't look good on the client. As a result, his pieces sell like hotcakes whenever they come up at auction. (Here's a Pinterest board devoted to his creations, a splendid way to waste some time.)

Lucky Marie-Chantal has several gems from the acclaimed jeweler. (And she's not JAR's only royal customer; others include Princess Caroline and, most recently, Queen Máxima.) M-C wears her diamond infinity hoops with everything from hats to tiaras, and I love them each and every time.

09 August 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: August 9

Welcome to today's edition of Queen Letizia Does Summer Florals, Part.... well, I lost track of how many we're on now. She's got a theme going on this summer, and it fits right in with Queen Sofia and her best lanai wear. The newest addition to the floral dress collection is an ikebana print from Juan Vidal, a new designer for her.

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, and Queen Sofia hosted a reception for the Balearic Islands during their summer residence in Palma de Mallorca.
My first thought? This is some serious FLOTUS style. I suppose Michelle Obama's trip to Spain a few weeks ago didn't allow any time for the trading of fashion tips, but I've already decided that these two are new BFFs and I won't accept any other explanation.

While we're in summer Mallorca mode:

The King and Queen, the Princess of Asturias, and Infanta Sofia held their annual summer photocall.
White and stripes says summer even more than a floral dress! This is the way to do family coordination, if you ask me, fitting together but not matching. I fell in love with Leonor's dress - get this kid to Wimbledon in her tennis whites! - and then figured out why: it's from Carolina Herrera's children's line. My Spanish CH obsession continues.

08 August 2016

Monday Tidbits for August 8: Unexpected Sparkle and More

But some sad news to start us off, I'm afraid:

--Queen Anne of Romania, born Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma, has passed away. She met King Michael while in London for the wedding of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, just before Michael was forced to abdicate his throne. She was 92 years old. [Telegraph]
King Michael and Queen Anne, 2014

--Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn are divorcing. The couple married in 2002 and have three daughters. [Kongehuset]

--Let's brighten things up with an unexpected tiara appearance: The Cartier Essex Tiara is owned by the jeweler and occasionally loaned out, which is how it comes to grace the head of...Rihanna! Check out the sparkle in W Magazine's Instagram video of the shoot. More tiaras for everyone, that's my motto.
Steven Klein for W Magazine

--"A Palace Was Unearthed Where Legend Places King Arthur's Birthplace," oooh. [Smithsonian]

--Over at the Jewel Vault: A rare necklace and bracelet set and one (mercifully) rare dress, plus a look at the Queen's outfits for Olympic opening ceremonies from pink bell hats to parachutes. Turns out, by the way, that this new Buckingham Palace exhibition has corrected a decades-long case of mistaken designer identity for one of Her Maj's most famous hats. [Royal Hats Blog, Jewel Vault]

Coming up this week: Summer fun in Spain, and more...

Tidbits is your place throughout the week to share things we haven't covered yet and for all your off topic chats. Enjoy!  

05 August 2016

Royal Jewels of the Day: The Princess Royal's Diamond and Pearl Floral Brooch and Grima Earrings

The Princess Royal is a member of the IOC, president of the British Olympic Association, and a former Olympian herself, so she's the British royal family's rep at the Rio Olympics. Her greatest challenge in Rio so far? Standing next to struggling Team GB flag bearer Andy Murray, it seems.

She's a gem, so let's talk about some of her gems. (YES, I can and will turn anything and everything back to the jewels. Look for my upcoming feature, Tiaras That Remind Me of the Olympic Rings.)

Wearing her Diamond and Pearl Floral Brooch and Grima Earrings, 2005
Once upon a time, a royal lady who was asked to christen a ship could count on receiving a nice jeweled bonus for her troubles. Princess Anne really cleaned up on that front in the 1960s and 1970s, receiving her lovely diamond Festoon Tiara as well as a handful of other jewels that have grown to be favorites over the years. Two of those jewels can be seen in the photo above.

When she christened the ship Esso Northumbria for the Esso Petroleum Company at the Swan Hunter Shipyard in 1969, Princess Anne received a pair of earrings with central pearls surrounded by gold and diamonds. They were the work of jeweler Andrew Grima, an artist who counted several members of the royal family as fans. The Queen still wears her Grima Ruby Brooch, which happens to be on display at the Palace of Holyroodhouse with the Fashioning a Reign exhibition at the moment.

Earrings worn with the pendants, 1969
The earrings have detachable pendants, as you can see in the above photo, but today we see the Princess Royal using the stud portion only, and she does so frequently. (Respect the glory of that hair, kids. Take your time.)

Sometimes she combines the Grima earrings with a diamond brooch, a spray with a flower of diamond petals and a pearl center. This brooch was also a gift from that 1969 ship christening, given by Swan Hunter. The floral brooch is more traditional in style, but the pieces are pulled together by their shared yellow gold setting. Something a little modern, something a little classic, and - combined with the many other pearls and gold jewels in her collection - two pieces to wear again and again. Like I said, she CLEANED. UP.

04 August 2016

Tiara Thursday: The Mountbatten Tiara

Earlier this summer, we looked at one tiara with the Mountbatten name attached to it. This larger model, though, is usually the one that takes the simple title of the Mountbatten Tiara:

The Mountbatten Tiara
Louis and Edwina Mountbatten were stand out figures even in a family full of well known names. Louis (1900-1979) was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, uncle to the Duke of Edinburgh, and a mentor to the Prince of Wales. He was also a senior naval officer and a statesman who played a major role in the independence of India, and was named Viscount and later Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The IRA planted a bomb on a fishing boat at the Mountbatten family summer home in Ireland in 1979, assassinating Lord Mountbatten and killing and wounding others in the family.

The Mountbattens in their splendor in India
Heiress Edwina Ashley (1901-1960) married Mountbatten in 1922. She dug right in when it came to helping with the war effort and with efforts while the family was in India, developing a knack for assessing situations in which aid was needed and helping to get the right aid distributed. The couple's unconventional marriage adds another layer of interest to these well known figures; Mountbatten himself allowed that "Edwina and I spent all our married lives getting into other people's beds." He remained devoted to her until the end, when she was buried at sea after her death in 1960. ("Dear Edwina," the Queen Mother said, "she always liked to make a splash.")

Dressed for the 1953 coronation
The Mountbatten Tiara is a large and distinctive diadem, with a modern feel for its age. It is most likely a Chaumet creation dating from around 1910, with diamonds set in platinum. Diamond scroll motifs give this solid tiara a pierced feel, and the design rises to a central point with a top line studded by diamond trefoil motifs. Edwina wore it to the coronations of both George VI and Elizabeth II, as well as for official events conducted by her husband while serving as the last Viceroy and first Governor-General of India and key events back home (here she is in 1959).

Lady Pamela Hicks wears the Mountbatten Tiara
The tiara passed to the couple's younger daughter, Lady Pamela Hicks. Lady Pamela sold the tiara at Sotheby's in 2002, where it drew a price of £149,650 after an estimate of £100,000-150,000 and was reportedly purchased by a private collector. She said of the sale, "We're not pop stars, so we need the money. I am sad to have to sell it as it belonged to my mother and it's very precious to me. It has, however, come to the point where I have to sell something." I'm sad she had to sell it too, but I have to say I am charmed by her forthright style in addressing the sale. That's just how it goes sometimes. (Lady Pamela has written a couple of books on her life, for those who want to read more: Daughter of Empire and India Remembered.)

Is this a favorite Mountbatten diadem for you?
(At least one other was worn by Edwina, a diamond and pearl tiara, in addition to the Mountbatten Tutti Frutti Bandeau and those from other branches of the family.)